Yellowknife’s evacuation order has been downgraded to an evacuation alert as residents head home by road and air, ending three weeks of displacement.
The territorial government lifted the order at 11am on Wednesday at the request of the City of Yellowknife and Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
Wednesday re-entry for the general population had first been announced late on Friday last week. Hundreds of essential workers returned on Monday and Tuesday, while some healthcare workers had been flown in earlier.
Fewer healthcare services than normal will be available in the weeks ahead, returning residents are told, while many shops and services will take time to resume.
A checkpoint 60 km west of Yellowknife had been due to lift at 12pm, but the time was brought forward by an hour to allow the first “re-entry flight” – bringing airlifted evacuees home from Calgary – to legally drop off residents at Yellowknife Airport.
There were no immediate reports of traffic disruption on the highways leading up from Alberta to Yellowknife, though the highway between the NWT and BC remains closed because of a wildfire and tree on the road.
Commercial flights were gradually returning to normal. A scheduled WestJet flight from Calgary landed in Yellowknife shortly before noon, appearing to be the first such flight to touch down since the evacuation order was downgraded.